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The Connection Between Gut Issues and a Dysregulated Nervous System

Posted by Liz Tenuto on

Your body is an intricate system where every biological process and every organ is interconnected. This means that the health of one thing often influences the health of another — one example being the connection between your gut health and your nervous system.

The Gut-Brain Axis

To understand the link between gut issues and your nervous system, it's crucial to understand the concept of the gut-brain axis.

This bidirectional communication system connects the gut and the brain, allowing them to influence each other's functions. The gut, often referred to as the "second brain," houses a complex network of neurons known as the enteric nervous system (ENS). This intricate web of neurons plays a pivotal role in digestion, absorption, and overall gut function.

How the Nervous System Regulates Gut Function

The autonomic nervous system (ANS), a branch of the nervous system, plays a significant role in regulating various bodily functions, including those of the gut. The ANS consists of two branches – the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). These two branches work in tandem to maintain a balance known as homeostasis.

The sympathetic nervous system is often associated with the body's "fight or flight" response. When activated, it prepares the body for action by increasing heart rate, dilating pupils, and redirecting blood flow away from non-essential functions such as digestion. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system is linked to the body's "rest and digest" state, promoting relaxation and facilitating processes like digestion.

The Impact of Stress on Gut Health

A dysregulated nervous system, particularly chronic stress, can disrupt the delicate balance of the gut-brain axis. When stress becomes prolonged, the SNS dominates, diverting resources away from the digestive system. This shift can lead to a range of gut issues.

These gut issues include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • weight gain (especially around the belly)
  • sugar and salt cravings
  • ibs / ibd flare-ups
  • cramping
  • increased sensitivity to certain foods
  • deficiency of nutrients
  • increased gas
  • acid reflux
  • feeling of fullness but still hungry
  • stomachaches after eating
  • nausea

Stress triggers the release of hormones like cortisol, which, in excess, can contribute to inflammation in the gut, decreased blood flow from the gut, and lower metabolism of food coming into the gut. And combined, those issues will disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive tract, which will lead to all the symptoms listed above.

But there is good news!

By releasing your stress and healing your nervous system, you can rid your body of chronic gut issues.

Do you want to heal your chronic gut issues by regulating your nervous system? Get guided through the step by step in 60 days with Heal Your Nervous System.